It’s Almost Time: Holiday Travel Survival Guide

Holiday Travel

Traveling during the holidays can be plenty stressful, but when you are doing it with kids in tow, it can skyrocket to uncomfortable levels. Here are 14 tips for holiday travel survival.

  • Give kids plenty of warning about travel and upcoming events. They’ll feel less pushed around and frightened of the unknown.
  • Keep kids on their usual schedule as much as possible. Kids need the security of familiar routines. They’re stressed by unfamiliar events and what feels to them like chaos.  Do what you can to keep them on schedule and be patient when they get irritable.
  • Be mindful of flights. Take into account the length of the flight and what time you will be leaving and arriving. Arrive early enough at the airport that kids can “run” a bit in the hallway before sitting still on the plane.   Bring small wrapped “presents”–treats, puzzles, books– or possibly best travel toys for toddlers. Give your kids one when they are buckled in and the others whenever you need a distraction mid-flight.
  • Plan only one event per day.  Holiday travel is supposed to be relaxing and fun for everyone.  If you over-schedule events, you risk burning yourself out and creating cranky, tired kids. Planning less is better than planning more.
  • Make sure you have nightly quiet time. Sit with your child and listen to him or her chat about the day. Ask about their favorite thing, the worst thing, and what they’re looking forward to tomorrow.
  • Get plenty of physical activity. Be sure your schedule includes plenty of visits to the playground or other opportunities for the kids to get out their excess energy.
  • Watch your child’s food intake. Many meltdowns originate from hunger. Sugar highs can send kids bouncing off walls and then crashing into tears. Limit treats and carry small protein-rich snacks with you to use if a meal is running late.
  • Select your destination carefully. Consider the weather, the time zone changes and the type of holiday you want such as sightseeing or camping. Be sure to take everyone’s interests into account. If possible, involve your child in the planning.
  • Plan the itinerary. Changing hotels every night can be unsettling for children. So, if you want to explore different parts of an area, pick accommodations that are central so you can sleep in the same place several nights in a row. Besides, you’ll be more relaxed if you don’t have to pack and unpack suitcases every day.
  • For every adult activity, plan a kids’ activity. A good rule of thumb is to plan adult activities for the morning and then kids’ activities in the afternoon as a wind down before bed.
  • Don’t overthink kids’ activities. You don’t always need to be running around to search for the next great thing to amuse your child. Kids can easily enjoy simple things such as an afternoon in a park or on the beach.
  • Factor in at least 24 hours at home when you return into your itinerary. Give everyone at least a day (or more if jet lag is involved) to return to reality before heading off to school and work.
  • Pack light. The more you pack, the more stuff you have to keep up with during your trip.
  • Pack your sense of humor.
 Most likely, something will go wrong. A good attitude, a lot of patience and a sense of humor is likely what will get you through. Remember, the idea behind a vacation is to relax and have fun!

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